Cardinal Kasper says hardliners think Gospel like penal code

Cardinal Walter Kasper says some prelates who have taken a hard line ideological position prior to the synod on the family have got the Gospel all wrong.

In an interview with America Magazine and Argentina’s La Nacion, Cardinal Kasper said some cardinals and bishops fear a domino-like collapse in the Church’s moral structure.

“That’s their fear. This is all linked to ideology, an ideological understanding of the Gospel that the Gospel is like a penal code,” Cardinal Kasper said.

But citing a reference to St Thomas Aquinas by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, the cardinal said “the Gospel is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is in the soul of faithful and becomes operating in love”.

“It is a living reality in the Church and we have to walk with the whole people of God and see what the needs of the people are.

“Then we have to make a discernment in the light of the Gospel, which is not a code of doctrines and commandments,” Cardinal Kasper said.

At a consistory of cardinals earlier this year, Cardinal Kasper suggested, in limited cases, divorced and civilly remarried Catholics could be admitted to Communion following a period of penance.

This has been opposed by several cardinals and bishops in books published prior to the synod.

In the interview, Cardinal Kasper said “we cannot simply take one phrase of the Gospel of Jesus and from that deduce everything”.

“You need a hermeneutic to see the whole of the Gospel and of Jesus’ message and then differentiate between what is doctrine and what is discipline.

“Discipline can change,” he said.

Issues of marriage and family “cannot be decided only from above, from the Church hierarchy, and especially you cannot just quote old texts of the last century, you have to look at the situation today, and then you make a discernment of the spirits and come to concrete results”.

“I think this is the approach of Pope Francis, whereas many others start from doctrine and then use a mere deductive method.”

The dual synod process, the questionnaire and the open debate on the issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried show a “dialogical” Church in line with that envisaged by St John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, he added.

Cardinal Kasper said the 12 months between this synod and the 2015 one will be crucial, as bishops “will have time to speak to their people”.


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